Avantgarde: Jalopy, or In The Dying Land

Even though Soviet City turned out to be a disappointment, I liked being a Forward Recon Gamer for a while and decided to try another early-access title recently released on Steam. This time it’s Jalopy.

How could I resist a game which promises me a journey through the German Democratic Republic on board of a trusty Trabant — one of the automotive legends of the former Eastern Block? Screenshots and trailers were encouraging too, since the visual side of Jalopy strongly reminds of the Interstate series, even if the car looks way more humble and I didn’t notice a minigun mounted on its top.

After a half hour of play, however, I can tell that the strongest part is the unique setting. According to the wall calendar in the garage — the ‘main base’ where our journey begins — it’s June 1990 and the GDR is just about to fall apart. The calendar proudly displays a blurred picture of Erich Honecker, the last leader of the First German Socialist State. The first sight after leaving the starting point is the outline of a Soviet T-34 tank on the horizon, which most likely is yet another monument of humiliation placed there by the masters to remind their slaves that ‘ihr habt den Krieg verloren’. During the road trip from Berlin to Dresden, in an attempt to cross the border, the Uncle, the player’s only companion and advisor, wonders if it will be possible to enter Czechoslovakia after it has dropped the word ‘Socialist’ from the official country name. To put it short, the atmosphere is similar to that of Papers, Please, although it’s certainly more melancholic than oppressive.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much more to say, since the current version of the game made it impossible for me to pass through the first petrol station, simply crashing everytime I tried to pay for my precious 10 litres. The developers promise constant updates, though, and there’s hope that I’ll learn about the Czech (and Slovak) post-Velvet Revolution hospitality.

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